March has been friendly to Northern Virginia homeowners

The number of homes sold in Norther Virginia is up 15 percent compared to last March, according to Ryan Conrad, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. (Thinkstock)(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Feverpitched)

WASHINGTON – For many homeowners in Northern Virginia, things are looking up this spring season.

“We’re seeing a strong robust spring market,” said Ryan Conrad, CEO of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

Conrad said the number of homes sold is up 15 percent compared to last March. Year to date, sales are up 12 percent in the parts of Virginia closest to D.C.

The news is especially good for home owners looking to sell because home prices are also on the rise, up 7 percent this March, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. Conrad said the median price for a home is currently $498,000.

When it comes to home values, some areas are doing better than others, but Conrad said the whole region is seeing forward momentum. Herndon, for example, has seen a 20 percent rise in home appreciation, whereas Arlington County is only seeing a 5 percent boost, and much of Loudoun County remains flat.

According to Conrad, the lack of inventory this spring is leading to the higher prices that sellers are getting for their homes. Right now, many areas are only seeing a two-month supply of homes for sale. This time last year, there were 618 more homes for sale in the region.

Also, sellers are spending less time waiting for a closing date, with the average wait time down to 52 days compared to 66 last year.

“This is the time of the year it’s cyclical market,” Conrad said. “The spring market is when they have the best opportunity to get the highest value for their buck.”

Conrad said homes listed for $400,000 or less are selling the quickest, and million-dollars homes in areas such as Great Falls are sitting longer, due to lower demand.

Transportation options are important to Northern Virginia, where many drivers are forced to wait hours in traffic to get into the District. Areas becoming more popular are spots along Metro’s Silver Line, and Conrad said he thinks the rail line’s eventual extension to Dulles International Airport will not only mean more construction jobs, but more tech jobs in the region — which ultimately leads to more residents.

“The better we can do at improving access to transportation, the better we feel the overall economy can be,” he said.

Many of the challenges in the housing market, right now, fall on buyers. Conrad said low inventory, and more competition among buyers looking to get a home before interest rates go up are making it harder for buyers to find a place. Also, he said some first-time homeowners want to buy, but have too much student loan debt, to get approval for a mortgage.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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